US: According to a confidential report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), interference from cell phones and other personal electronic devices (PEDs) present serious safety concerns for aircraft. IATA is a trade group representing more 230 passenger and cargo airlines worldwide. The report covers the years 2003 to 2009 and is based on survey responses from 125 airlines that account for a quarter of the world’s air traffic.
IATA surveyed commercial pilots and crewmembers and cited 75 incidents in which the respondents believed PEDs may have created electronic interference that impacted flight systems. The report mentioned that twenty-six incidents affected flight controls, while 17 affected navigation systems and 15 affected communication systems. Thirteen of the incidents produced electronic warnings, including “engine indications.” According to respondents, activated electronic devices caused GPS and altitude-control readings to read incorrectly and change rapidly.
To prove his point, Dave Carson of Boeing, the co-chair of a federal advisory committee that investigated the problem of electronic interference from portable devices, took ABC News inside Boeing’s electronic test chamber in Seattle, where engineers demonstrated the hidden signals from several electronic devices that were well over what Boeing considers the acceptable limit for aircraft equipment. A Blackberry and an iPhone were both over the limit, but the worst offender was an iPad.